After a dramatic start to my day I tried to settle into my regular vacation schedule, which typically involves a couple of hours spent drinking copious amounts of coffee and partially reading then getting disgusted with and abandoning every article in the Republic.
This is where I should mention that I'm incredibly field dependent, which is a nice way of saying easily distracted by weird noises and mystifying facial expressions. And hammering falls into the category of weird noises, especially when there are four or five hammers hammering different cadences on different parts of the roof. And each hammer creates it's own unique pitch. And all this was amplified by exquisite attic acoustics, which filtered into every part of the house through AC ducts and the new man-sized hole in the roof. This lasted for ten hours. Ten. Hours. Annoying, for sure, but if I can teach a kid with Tourette's Syndrome, I can handle a little hammering.
But it wasn't just the hammering. (I should also mention that I've inherited the family traits of neuroticism and anxiety, which I can usually counterbalance with my two most obvious personality flaws: detachment and aloofness. This makes me seem pretty calm most of the time, but if the balance of power tips in favor of neuroticism or anxiety by, let's say, the presence of a highly anxious or neurotic person who moves their limbs rapidly and unexpectedly, I will have a meltdown of Chernobyl-like proportions and I'm pretty sure that there is enough reactive energy pent up in my body that if I ever did have children they'd have two heads or tails or something...but that's neither here nor there.) So anyway, my anxiety was already high from the hammering, but I was being detached by staring glassy eyed at the TV and I was doing OK until my dad started hopping out of his seat every ten minutes to check on the workers. And every time he opened the door, the dogs would bark. All five of them. And each time this happened all humans present would start shouting at the dogs to shut up. Hammering. Barking. Shouting. My hair-trigger fight or flight response was starting to kick in. I decided to lie down.
In my room, it was much more peaceful. I even started to like the sound of the hammering. It muffled the sound of the dogs, who were once again rage-barking at the door. Just as my blood pressure started to drop, I heard a baby crying. Wailing, really. That gut-wrenching "hurt and scared" cry.
I bolted out of my room just in time to see my sister in law scoop up my niece and carry her to the couch. My niece was sobbing and clutching her little leg, which had a nasty bruise, some scratches, and what looked like a puncture wound or two. My dog, who is also prone to neuroticism and an inexplicable fear of small children, had bitten her as she tried to navigate the pack of overstimulated dogs clogging the front hall. My heart broke into a million pieces. It's bad enough someone you love is hurt and upset. It's doubly bad when the cause of the hurt is your loyal, loving, yet hideously ugly rescue dog that everyone else already hates.
In the midst of the pandemonium, my aunt had arrived. She thinks she's Cesar Milan, even though she has never owned a dog. Immediately, I got an earful about what a bad pack leader I am and how Quito needs to be trained better and she's punctuating all of this with a weird sound - "Aeh! Aeh!"- that's supposed to be the auditory version of pepper spray for dogs.
So now there's hammering, barking, crying, shouting, and "Aeh aeh!." I pretty much checked out right there and started breathing through my mouth. Not good.
My mom offered me a cocktail.
I opted for the heavy artillery. Nerve tonic, ice cream for dinner, playoff hockey and a night cap of Tylenol PM.
At least the Blackhawks beat Philly.
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